Action research has had a positive influence on my teaching and professional development. Before this course I wasn’t sure how to effectively handle problems in my practice of teaching. I would usually talk with my colleagues about the problem or find articles in journals or online that would help guide me towards resolving the problem. Sometimes the solutions I found were helpful but often they were not because they seemed to be quick fixes rather than systematic strategies that have been researched. After having completed my own action research project about my own real problem, I feel more confident that I could use this approach to help resolve problems in the future. While I don’t think it would be wise to filter every classroom problem through this research process, I know I will be able to implement action research when necessary. I found great results when I used action research to help me discover if assistive technology would help my ASD student to grow in his writing skill. I was able to conduct the research in a few weeks and found that my student did grow in his writing ability by using assistive technology, the iPad and Clicker 6, to support his writing assignments. Because of his success with writing during the project, I plan on using assistive technology in not only writing but other content areas as well. I learned so much about my own teaching through this project and look forward to incorporating it into my classroom in the future.
As a result of taking TE 808 I have learned that as a teacher I am beginning to understand the value of being a reflective practitioner in the classroom. I understand that as a teacher you need to not only recognize problem areas in your teaching or classroom but you need to try to understand why and how these things happen. You also need to observe, evaluate and find new strategies or approaches to apply to the situation. I also learned a lot about time management through this course. I found that I had to re-organize my time to be able to balance 2 grad classes, working full time and having time for family as well. Being in this course helped me to balance keeping up with all the demands without burning out.
After taking this course, I was reminded of the value of looking at students individually. While we can make general assumptions about the students as a whole class it’s a good practice to look at students individually. This helps you to see the growth they’ve accomplished or the difficulties they’re having in a more isolated way. By seeing students as individuals you are able to focus on finding ways to support them that are productive whether it’s for enrichment or re-teaching.
TE 808 is an introductory course in the MATC program but because of scheduling issues for me, it is the 4th course I’ve taken in my program. This course has helped me to see the value of creating a schedule for due assignments (if one isn’t provided). Having this schedule in our course truly helped me in my efforts to stay on track with meeting deadlines. It has also helped me to see the value in trying to manage your time wisely. By breaking down the action research paper into smaller portions throughout the semester, I was able to complete the larger paper by the end of our course without having to do a lot of work at the very last minute. I hope to be able to implement this scheduling strategy in my next MATC courses.
The most challenging part of this course has been being able to dedicate adequate time to assignments. I am currently taking another course, working full time and a mom of four children. While I have sincerely enjoyed the course and the assignments, I worked hard to keep up with course readings, forum postings, action research project assignments, TED videos, web 2.0 tools, and scheduling peer feedback. I have spent more time in this three credit hour course than I did in the other three credit hour courses I’m taking or have taken. I had three educational technology courses last summer which gave me great exposure to implementing technology in the classroom so I felt like that part of TE 808 was a little bit of repeat but I’m glad that I already had exposure to the web tools. The most beneficial part of the course was being able to conduct the action research project. I enjoyed being able to identify a problem and analyze it while attempting to find solutions to the situation that would benefit me and my student in the long run. I also enjoyed giving and receiving the peer feedback. Having another set of eyes look at the paper was really helpful.
If a MATC colleague was going to take TE 808 I would tell them that they should be ready to take on a semester of work as they will need and want to dedicate their time and energy to focus on the action research project. I would encourage them that the work is not difficult if you follow the syllabus and schedule and utilize the forums on Angel for support. I would also advise them to test out the many web tools they learn about in their own classrooms. Overall, they should be encouraged that they will learn a lot about becoming a reflective practitioner in their own classrooms.
The next 2 weeks are being renamed: "Crunch time!!" I am basically living in front of my laptop this week and next to finish up my course assignments for CEP 811 & 812. Between the 2 classes I have a lot to get done. I've had many distractions (good and bad) since the classes started back in June, but such is life, right? I will say that I am learning so much through these courses! I would highly recommend them to colleagues. As teachers we are definitely passionate about learning and guiding instruction for our students and the content of these course will be valuable for keeping up as a 21st century educator. Not only do you learn from the instructors and lesson modules but you also expand your PLN, personal learning network. This happens mostly because of the menagerie of new website and web tools you interact with and also due to the collaboration of fellow classmates. I've been challenged and inspired as I learn from other teachers who are sharing what they know.
Okay, back to the grindstone.
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